Minnesota Vikings ER Danielle Hunter

Danielle Hunter Agrees to New Deal with Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings and edge rusher Danielle Hunter have come to terms on a new deal that assures he'll be part of the team this fall. What happens after that, however, remains very much up in the air.

"As part of the renegotiated deal, Hunter receives $5.6 million of the money due to him in 2021 as a signing bonus, putting cash in his pocket quicker than the usual base salary," writes Nick Shook of NFL.com, citing a report by Ian Rapoport. "The more significant change, though, comes in 2022, when a new $18 million roster bonus is set to trigger on the fifth day of the league year. That date will serve as a decision point for the Vikings, who can either decide to keep Hunter on the roster at the expensive price of $20 million—with $18 million guaranteed via the roster bonus, if he's still on the team on that date—sign him to a new deal or release Hunter in order to save money."

Hunter turns 27 in October. He missed all of 2020 due to a neck injury, but played in every game in the four years before that, including three straight years without missing a start. He had 48.5 sacks from 2016 to 2019; only Chandler Jones and Aaron Donald had more.


18 comments, Last at 23 Jun 2021, 12:27pm

1 I guess

Could go either way it seems.

Bargain contracts don't last. Players quickly realize their mistake and demand more anyway so...maybe the original good deal was bad in the long run for the team.

3 Why? Even if they let him go…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Why? Even if they let him go next year, they got top-5 DE production for... like, practically nothing.

Plus even $20M next year is nothing. Mack's a $30M cap hit next year for the Bears.

5 You're welcome to think that…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

You're welcome to think that a $30M cap hit won't happen, but $20M cap hits for DEs have happened plenty and are likely to become common by 2022. Franchise tag for a DE was ~$18M in 2020, it'll be super close to $20M in 2022.

I have no idea why the author of the linked article thinks that 2022 will be a "decision point" where they have to do something because of the cap hit. That's totally wrong. They have to do something because the Vikings do extensions 2 years early, not 1. Maybe that's how it was phrased to him by Hunter's agent or something, but it's nuts.

There's an OTC analysis on this and it basically echoed what I thought: this is weird, because the Vikings gave up nothing and Hunter gets nothing and suddenly everyone's apparently happy.

6 You're gonna echo something

that says the contract will be touched before it goes up. But not the difference between 20 and 30. Ok whatever.

It's only weird if you don't understand how he gets money up front instead of waiting for an(other) injury. 

7 It's only weird if you don't…

It's only weird if you don't understand how he gets money up front instead of waiting for an(other) injury. 

All they did is convert ~$5M of his salary into a signing bonus and paid it to him today. He's a vested vet. It does almost nothing for him. Unless the Vikings release him non-injured before week 1, all that money's coming to him anyway.

This actually does more for the Vikings - as in, it frees up space this year. But Hunter was the one upset by his contract. Again - weird.

8 I thought if they released…

I thought if they released him at any time, future salary isn't guaranteed regardless of vet status. So most players always see a benefit in getting money in bonus/up-front. Is that not the case? I.e. if they released him next year for some reason, that $5M is not coming to him?

11 Yeah, that's not right…

Yeah, that's not right. Players aren't that powerless. Once you're a vested veteran (it's like ~4 years or something), if you're on the roster in week 1, your full year's salary is guaranteed, period. Plus if you're ever released while injured, the team's responsible for paying your salary until you're not injured anymore (there's usually negotiation between the player/team as to when that is). This is why you'll often times see lower-tier vets (the ones who wouldn't garner interest in free agency anyway) released, but then brought back immediately (to avoid the guarantee).

So in this case, the only way Hunter wouldn't get that salary is if the Vikings released him prior to week 1 (that is, in training camp) without an injury designation. And that's not going to happen - if it did, another team would snap him up for way more than $5M/yr anyway.

Honestly, this reads more like Hunter went to the Vikings, complained, the Vikings said "hey look, we're redoing your contract next year anyway, because that's what we always do" Hunter said "okay, I want some pressure to do it early," so they put it there, and then the Vikings said "... and while we have you here, we need to move things around to free up space anyway." And then Hunter's camp is trying to sell this as a win, when it's actually completely pointless.

9 Like dbo said

There was 3 years left on the 5 year contract. All the new guaranteed money is gone (like most contracts like that). They can cut him and not give him another penny. The dead cap they'd take was already paid out. He got another $5.6m now instead of waiting til the season actually starts. That's huge and guarantees him a roster spot regardless of what happens between now and then too.

IDK how you're arguing that millions up front for a vet that missed the entire season last year is the weird part. All it does is make it harder for the Vikings to move on now. 

12 That's huge and guarantees…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

That's huge and guarantees him a roster spot regardless of what happens between now and then too.

It's $5M! He'd get a roster spot for $5M regardless if the Vikings cut him in training camp. The only way this has any benefit for Hunter is if he's worried about passing his physical or something, and that's insane because the Vikings wouldn't do anything here without knowing his physical status.

IDK how you're arguing that millions up front for a vet that missed the entire season last year is the weird part

He plays at a position where a $5M flier is common. It's impossible for Hunter to not make $5M this year. Guys who barely play at defensive end get $5M guaranteed.

I have no idea how you're arguing that the Vikings would ever move on from Hunter this year, or how you think that $5M would change their mind. He's 27 and averages 10+ sacks/year! Clowney has shown far less, been injured more, and got $7M in guarantees from the Browns - his fourth team.

This is PR, nothing else.

14 Geez

You sure love to talk in absolutes. Even when not applicable. 

The money was pushed up. The fact you keep arguing it is stubbornness. If you are unable to see why he'd want that, then you know nothing about PR. Literally right from the article:

"opted to pay him a portion of his salary now (or whenever the bonus is paid) rather than during the year. While the money sounds huge next year and the bonus clearly gives Hunter the ability to test free agency rather than be forced to linger on a roster until the summer"

My goodness. All this over my indifference, geez.

15 And you sure love to…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

And you sure love to misunderstand quotes - the second bolded portion refers to the roster bonus next year. As in, the point of the bonus next year was just to reassure Hunter that the Vikings will make a decision early. It doesn't do anything. It's just the Vikings saying "look, we're not going to screw you."

Which has value, but it's entirely psychological, not monetary. If Hunter had a positive relationship with the team, it wouldn't've been necessary at all. Which - again - gets back to the point where this costs the Vikings nothing. You originally wondered whether it was worth it for a team to sign a player below-market because they'll get upset and you'll have to pay more. The Vikings aren't paying more, and Hunter is still wildly underpaid.  

Getting this year's salary early is almost entirely pointless for Hunter. It has far more positive effect for the Vikings than for Hunter, which is why I doubt that Hunter actually even asked for it. Do you not realize that "paying him his salary now" is how all of these "renegotiations" work to save salary cap space? And that it's the team asking the player for it in all of these cases? That money is so essentially guaranteed to Hunter that he almost certainly could've taken out an insurance policy for it for a token amount. I mean, if I'm a bank, I'd offer him a guarantee on that for $100K. Easily. Maybe 1 time out of 100 a player like that would collect on it.

The only way the salary push up has benefit to Hunter is if the Vikings intend on trading him, which... I guess is possible. Hadn't thought about that.



You always have to be right though. 


18 Did you read anything I…

Did you read anything I wrote? Your quote referred to the bonus in 2022. And I did acknowledge why Hunter wanted that - because it's a commitment from the Vikings to get a deal done early. But it's not a financial commitment.


Why in the world do you think the Vikings can't do two things at the same time? The $18M bonus next year is a commitment that they'll get the deal done early. The salary front his year is just a restructure.

If Hunter actually just wanted the money, they could've made it a roster bonus due that day. Poof, done, money there, no change in anything. Instead the team tacked on dummy years to the contract, converted it to a signing bonus, and gained cap space this year.

You always have to be right though. 

Yes, because in this thread, clearly I'm the one that's never acknowledged that I hadn't thought of a possibility. Have fun arguing with yourself.

2 Ha, "expensive price" of …

Ha, "expensive price" of $20M/yr. You'd be hard pressed to find a top-10 DE for under $20M/yr at this point. Clark, Miller, Mack, Lawrence, Jones, Flowers, Bosa have or already have had a ~$20M cap charge, and a *bunch* more hit that in 2022.

10 Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore's situation is interesting - he sat out minicamp and lost the last five games of last season with a torn quad (although he should be fine now). Started slow last season but was excellent before the injury. The Pats have gotten great value from him but he's also turning 31 in September.

13 If Hunter demonstrates he's…

If Hunter demonstrates he's fully returned to form, the Vikings will be happy to rework things yet again. They have a history of taking care of great players at the end of their contracts; Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Steve Hutchinson, etc.. That reputation has significant value.

16 I mean, even if he struggles…

I mean, even if he struggles this year, the Vikings weren't going to like, hold onto him through most of training camp. That'd be nuts - like, what team would carry a $17M cap charge through the offseason (when things are likely to still be cap constrained) just to piss off a player? What the heck would the point of that be?

It's not even a poison pill of a bonus, either! I mean, if it was $25-30M, I could understand - basically, they'd be saying "okay, we get it, if we don't redo your contract next year - which we will, but whatever - you'll essentially have a downpayment on the next contract."

But, I mean, even if Hunter does return to form and the Vikings front office turns into a bunch of jerks (again - won't, like you said) and doesn't rework the contract.... oh, darn, they've got a top-flight DE for a $25M cap charge in 2022. What a horrible situation for them. I'm sure the Bears will cry them a freaking river.